"Hi, this is Jacqui, how may I help you? Oh hi Jo! What are you up to? Oh, work is just slow today, so I'm just sitting at the front desk. Yeah, yeah, I saw that whole fiasco on TV last night. Honestly, she dominated him in the debate. No, I don't think he's going to win again, especially with the blue wave taking over the country. When she wins, we can finally get this country back on track…"
"Sorry, Jo I have to go," Jacqui said as she hung up the phone. "Hi Ma'am, how may I help you?"
"Hi, I'm here for my 11:30 am appointment with Dr. Guerrero," the woman said breathily, her forehead gleaming in sweat.
"Let me check to see if the doctor is available, but I doubt he is at the moment, especially with you arriving so late. It's 12:15 pm"
"Yes, but it took me over 1.5 hours to get here!"
"I'm sorry to hear about that Mrs.-"
"Well, again, I'm sorry that that happened Mrs. Gutierrez, let me check if your doctor is still available". Jacqui then reaches for the phone. "Yes, ok, sounds good, thanks. Mrs. Gutierrez, Dr. Guerrero will be able to see you at 12:45 pm if you are available"
She clasped her hands, stating "Yes, that's great!"
As Jacqui began to do data entry, Mrs. Gutierrez started speaking again.
"I am not usually late, but I swear that this wasn't my fault; my insurance chose this doctor for me.
Jacqui then paused, and asked "Can you explain? I don't understand"
"Ok, so, after enrolling in the state health insurance, I chose my preferred doctor and saved her name on the website. However, when later calling her office for a time to call, it said that the line was disconnected. Then I tried another doctor that would be covered, but then I was directed to another office telephone number. And when I called that number, his number was also disconnected. Two weeks after deleting my doctor preference and giving up on this, I receive a card from the state health insurance, assigning me to this doctor in Queens. But I live up in the North Bronx, this made no sense to me"
"You're from the North Bronx?"
"Yes, and I, in the end, remained with seeing Dr. Guerrero because I could not change my primary care provider in time. Furthermore, I had to wake up very early today, and take the subway for 1.5 hours in order to get to this office, on top of the subway delays"
"Wow, I'm so sorry to hear about that, I-"
"Hi, my name is James Redmok, and I have a procedure with Dr. Atkin today" the second man stated as he walked up to the front desk.
"Hi James, yes, I see that. Let me go over a couple of important details about the procedure with you. First, unfortunately, your state health insurance is not going to cover all of this operation, and due to that, the amount owed will be-"
"What do you mean that the operation is not covered?"
"I mean that your operation involving radiation and eliminating the cancer is not fully covered by your insurance. After calculating the amount you will have to pay out of pocket, around $40,000" she said.
"$40,000! I can barely afford to keep the payments on my car and kids at the moment. I thought that my insurance policy stated that they would cover my operations and procedures related to my disease"
Jacqui slowly took off her glasses, folded them, then stated "But since it is on the experimental side, general health insurance policies usually do not cover specific or rare procedures such as this"
"So, what should I do now?" James stated as he began to look through his wallet for his credit card. "There had to be a solution to this," he thought.
As he continued to do this, Jacqui noticed that a patient was in the process of being transferred from IC to their department. When seeing this, she had James sit down next to Mrs. Gutierrez, and went to speak with the new patient.
"Hi, my name is Jacqui, let me see what I can do for your today" she stated to the woman. After looking at the charts, and seeing the label "INSURANCE: NOT PROVIDED", she asked her " Do you have any health insurance?"
The woman froze for one long minute and finally declared "No".
When Jacqui asking why the woman began to explain her story.
"So, the reason why I do not have health insurance is that I can't pay for the high premiums in healthcare. After switching to Obamacare, I found that while my personal income did not increase, the prices of drugs and services did. As a result of this, I had to resort to cutting down the usage of my car and looking for other places to live.
"Have there been any penalties for not having healthcare, especially with the Affordable Care Act being passed"
"Yes, I receive monthly a fine because, under Obamacare, it's almost mandated that you be on healthcare insurance anyway. So what am I supposed to do?"
"Yes, I understand" Jacqui nodded.
"I mean, I either have to choose between putting food on the table for myself and my family, or for paying for my own healthcare myself. And because of the rising prices in Big Pharma and brands, it is barely affordable for me and a lot of other people now... So, do you know what the approximate cost is going to be for the emergency room services?"
"Well, your total cost excluding overnight is going to be around $30,000," Jacqui said quietly.
"And if I had health insurance?" he asked her.
"Less than $1,000 USD" she stated,
"The woman then got up slowly from the patient chair, running quickly down the hall.
Jacqui walked out to the back room and tried to calm herself. After a couple of minutes of being overwhelmed by the three previous people that day, she was allowed to leave at 5 pm. After getting into her car, she drove off from the hospital, and even passed her house, exiting off to lanes labeled "Airport".